July 14, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) in the dugout between innings against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
There's somehow not a lot to say about this game. The Sox got good performances where it's important to see good performances, with Will Middlebrooks perhaps breaking out of his slump by taking David Price deep to give the Sox an early 2-1 lead, and Clay Buchholz going six strong innings with eight strikeouts and two runs on three hits (largely because of the unfortunate timing of the hits early in their respective innings) before he struggled late and allowed the baserunners that would eventually give the lead to the Rays.
Unfortunately, they were outweighed by bad performances from the players whose performances down the line will not necessarily be terribly important. Pedro Ciriaco, unfortunately, did not manage to continue his run of good--and in particular clutch--performances, going 0-for-4 and striking out twice, leaving four runners on. Matt Albers failed to strand the runners Clay allowed in the seventh, giving up an intentional walk to load the bases with one out, then an unintentional one and a sacrifice fly to tie the game and surrender the lead respectively. I'd like to think this means the end of turning to Albers in the highest-leverage situations, but that seems...unlikely.
The real failure tonight came with wasted opportunities. The Sox wasted a bases loaded situation in the fifth when Ciriaco lined out to right and Kelly Shoppach was gunned down trying to tag up and score, as well as a leadoff double in the eighth and leadoff single in the ninth. Will Middlebrooks was the only person to really perform well in the clutch, with the third Sox run coming in on defensive failures by the Rays.
Unfortunately for Boston, long term doesn't necessarily mean that much right now. The Sox are 1-1 in the second half, and back to .500 for what feels like the twentieth time on the season.